Olympus has been teasing a new camera for weeks now that could very well be a fantastic nature photography tool, but I don’t think that was the most important announcement for nature photographers.
First, the camera. The new E-M1X is a 20MP micro four thirds camera that can shoot 18 fps with full tracking autofocus using 121 on sensor cross type phase detection focus points that work with contrast detect focusing and what they are referring to as deep learning (AI) algorithms for object detection. It can also do 60 fps with the focus locked at the first shot. The with mechanical shutter it can do 18 fps single focus and 10 fps continuous. There are many other features including handheld high res, and other multi-shot modes (exposure bracketing that they are calling live ND). DPReview has already put up some great articles on the specs, sample shots and hands on reviews.
This is all great, but the real interesting thing that came out of this release was a notice that they are building a new 150-400 f4.5 lens with built in 1.25 teleconverter and they also announced a separate 2X teleconverter. From a nature photographers point of view this could be amazing. Equivalent reach of a 300-800 lens in a package that looks at least slightly smaller than Canons 200-400. With the 1.25 teleconverter you have a 1000mm that you can handhold. Depending on the minimum focus distance this could be a fantastic lens for birding (especially small birds) that I would really like to get a chance to use.
The 2X teleconverter will be very interesting as well, but I’ll wait to see on this one since I have yet to be really impressed with any 2X teleconverters from any company.
Who knows, this set of announcements could lead me right back to where I started with mirrorless cameras on the micro 4/3 platform. I do have one request for Olympus…please come out with animal/bird eye detect in your AI algorithms and you will have something for birders that won’t break their backs.